Macy’s American Rag spokeswoman Lenay Dunn’s career took a U-turn when the then-Minnesota college student made her first YouTube video. In the new Internet age where one is discovered online, eyeballs from Redbull’s corporate offices magically arrived on her videos and hired her for their own company. Now at MTV, where you may have seen her on programs like 10 On Top, she is finding her place in the world as a TV hostess, singer and wife.
You did a quiz for “Seventeen,” where you said that at age 17, “I thought I was going to be a pilot, a piano player, an artist, or a Spanish teacher.” What caused a shift into your current career path? What made you like new things. You did not say, “No, I want to be a Spanish teacher!” when you began doing on air work.
I actually first went to college at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, to be a Spanish Teacher, but then Red Bull called me one day and they were like, “Hi, we’ve seen your Youtube videos – do you want to host shows for us?” And I was like, “Um yes!” So I started missing some school to fly around the U.S., Canada, and Europe to host Red Bull shows. I was like, wait … I can do this as a job? It felt unreal. Then after college I moved to LA for a bit and got a manager, and the rest is history!
Back then, you said, “I took a typing class because a guy I liked was in it.” Using your job as a tool, have you ever gone out of your way to meet anyone whose work you admire?
I have a friend who said the next time I’m in LA that I could come and hang out on set of ‘The Voice” and I’ve always wanted to meet Carson Daly, so I’m pretty excited to take her up on that offer!
How and why were you approached by American Rag? What do you like about your business partnership?
I actually met Mark Silver the head of ‘Factory PR’ while I was out and about in NYC. He knew American Rag was looking for a new face of their brand and put me in the running and I was their first choice! It has been amazing, because they are my first choice place to shop and have been for a long time,
Commuting to work is tons of fun. Do you still live in Nashville part time? Other than New York, where else do you go for work and fun? Why did you choose Tennessee as your primary residence?
I lived in Franklin (right south of Nashville) and flew to NYC every week back and forth for a few years. We still have a house there but JUST got an apartment in NYC a few months ago! Nashville is Music City so that’s why we lived there first – my husband Jason was in the band Hawk Nelson before he left to go solo so we had to be there for that. We also had turned part of our house in TN into a recording studio & both had fun writing and recording music. In other music news I just got a new Taylor guitar, which I named ‘Taylor’ after itself. Taylor’s pretty 🙂
Excluding on air mishaps, what is the weirdest or funniest thing that has ever happened to you at work?
I like playing tricks on our executive producer Jenny. She’s the best. Picture a 12 year old girl’s bedroom and that’s what her office looks like, complete with a ‘WWJBD’ inspired wall (“What would Justin Bieber Do?” sprinkled with JB posters). I got her a Taylor Swift blanket for Christmas, so one day we had Bobby (works on ’10 on Top’ too) sit in Jenny’s chair under the blanket so his face lined up with Taylor’s… and then we found Jenny and told her Taylor Swift is waiting for her in her office. (there’s actually a picture of this on my instagram) http://www.instagram.com/p/TJxh_RwbIk/
Since you were born in Africa and raised in Minnesota, did you relate to the movie “Mean Girls” and all its jokes about the main character moving to the Midwest from Africa?
Yes actually! I’ve gotten that comparison a lot. I even had a friend in grade school ask me why I wasn’t black if I was born there. I still know a few words/phrases from the language ‘Lingala’ spoken in the Congo & was thinking about getting a tattoo of one, ‘Bokasi’, meaning strength (like a small and cursive one on my wrist or something). My younger sister has that tattoo on her neck though so I don’t think she’ll appreciate me copying her lol.
You have done a lot of great work on MTV goofing around, sailing with Zac Efron and so forth. Everyone knows that – and if they do not by now, they shall utilize Google. When you aren’t working, what do you do? Before MTV, what did you like? What don’t we learn about you from seek you on TV about your smarty pants side, hobbies…?
When I’m not working lately I’ve been decorating my new apartment and going to a ton of events around the city. I love decorating! http://www.instagram.com/p/Xylz3gQbGf/ and I love dressing up in and going to fun events. A fun fact about me is that I’m also very good at knocking things over. Especially if I’m meeting you for the first time… “Hi, nice to meet you sorry I just knocked over your water glass or spaghetti on your lap.” I also like writing lists and ideas in new notebooks with colored markers. & going to New York Red Bulls games with my friends .
When are you releasing more music?
Very soon!! I have some exciting music updates and news coming up that I’ll hopefully be sharing in the not-too-distant future! I’ll also be posting any updates on my site LenayDunn.com and, as a side note I started a fashion blog too! It’s called, Imajolie.com. My sister Jayde and I have been having a lot of fun posting on there.